Enterprise social networks are set to become the primary communication channels for noticing, deciding or acting on information relevant to carrying out work. However, Gartner estimates that through 2015, 80% of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an over-emphasis on technology. 
“Businesses need to realise that social initiatives are different from previous technology deployments,” says Carol Rozwell, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
“Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a ‘push’ paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a ‘pull’ approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.”
This means that the leaders of social business initiatives need to shift their emphasis away from deciding which technology to implement.
Instead they should focus on identifying how social initiatives will improve work practices for both individual contributors and managers. They need a detailed understanding of social networks: how people are currently working; who they work with; and what their needs are.
“There is too much focus on content and technology, and not enough focus on leadership and relationships,” says Rozwell.
“Leaders need to develop a social business strategy that makes sense for the organisation and tackle the tough organisational change work head on and early on. Successful social business initiatives require leadership and behavioural changes. Just sponsoring a social project is not enough – managers need to demonstrate their commitment to a more open, transparent work style by their actions.”
Gartner outlined two additional key predictions around social and collaboration:
* By 2016, 50% of large organisations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and that 30% of these will be considered as essential as e-mail and telephones are today.
“The popularity and effectiveness of social networking sites as a group communication tool among consumers is prompting organisations as well as individual employees to ask whether similar technologies can be deployed privately,” says Nikos Drakos, research director at Gartner.
“There is increasing interest for using social technologies within organisations to connect people more effectively, to capture and reuse valuable informal knowledge, and to deliver relevant information more intelligently where it is needed through social filtering.”
Using Facebook-like enterprise social networking software for communication has several advantages over e-mail and traditional check-in/check-out repository-centric collaboration in terms of information capture and reuse, group organisation, and social filtering.
A Facebook-like social networking environment within an organisation can be used as a general-purpose communication channel where information and events that originate in external systems – such as e-mail, office applications and business applications – can be injected into conversations, and vice versa.
With an understanding of the key influencers in the social network, communication channels will become even more effective.
* In 2017, the majority of all new user-facing applications will exhibit gamified-social-mobile fusion. Three key feature sets (social, mobile and gamification) are already emerging in the marketplace in user-facing applications.
These features increase the attractiveness, usability and effectiveness of the applications they are found in. Over the next five years, these three feature sets will continue to co-emerge and fuse into a superset, such that, by 2017, they will appear in the majority of user-oriented applications and apps.
“Users should include gamified-social-mobile fusion as a desired set of characteristics when evaluating new application investments,” says Tom Austin, VP and Gartner Fellow.
“Applications and app-providers that fail to exploit the benefits of gamification-social-mobile fusion should expect underwhelming adoption, and therefore sales, of any user-facing products competing against alternatives that exploit the benefits of this fusion.”